Sunday, April 18, 2004

I watched the second of my two Singapore International Film Festival films today - The Barbarian Invasions. It's a brilliant film about life, death, love and friendship which centres around a son's (Sebastien, played by Stephane Rousseau) relationship with his dying father, Remy (Remy Girard).

Stephane is wonderful as Sebastien, able to convey both love and resentment towards his father, who cheated on his mother six months after they got married and continued to cheat on her with various women throughout their entire marriage. Sebastien is a handsome London-based financier and sounds absolutely gorgeous when he speaks English with a Canadian French accent. He looks like a cross between David Duchovny and Brad Pitt... a good-looking lad indeed! But what gets us is that in spite of his wanting to return to London after having quarrelled with his father early on in the film, he stays on - and not only does he stay on, he gets his father a much better room than the one he was originally given (a commentary on Canada's failing health system) and contacts all of his father's old friends and gets them to come down and keep his father company during his last few days. He even goes to the extent of getting one of Remy's ex-mistress's junkie daughter, Nathalie (Marie-Josée Croze), to obtain heroin for his father since Remy, despite being given morphine, is quite obviously in pain.

When Remy's old friends turn up on the same day one by one, the show - already funny - becomes so much better. We find out more about Remy's younger days as he speaks with his friends and the tender love between all the old friends is fantastic, displayed by the ease of the banter that passes between all of them.

Apparently, Croze won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival last year, something I was unaware of, else I would have paid more attention to her performance. I was a little too engrossed between the possible relationship between Sebastien and Nathalie to concentrate on her acting, but on the whole, it wasn't too bad. She does a good job of portraying someone who's been down-and-out for so long that she's accepted her lot in life and doesn't quite know what to do when the opportunity to get out of that rut comes, but manages, once she has let Sebastien down, to gather the strength to kick her habit. The relationship between Remy and her is touching too, as she becomes closer to him through their mutual sharing of dreams and regrets while they're high.

The show is both hilarious and touching. There're parts which moved me (close to) tears, and surprisingly the one moment which actually made me shed tears was the scene in which Remy's seafaring daughter, Sylvaine, calls back home via satellite link and tells him that somehow, despite his never having been around, she's inherited his lust for life and that she'll always be there for him, breaking down as she says this. Sylvaine doesn't make that many appearances in the movie, only appearing in two scenes so it came as a surprise that the most minor of characters in the movie was the one that caused me to cry.

All in all, it was a great show. I hope it comes out on general release here, as I would love to re-watch it.

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